COLLECTION: Musical Instruments

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Hurdy-gurdy

Mid 18th c.
Origin: Probably France
Length without handle: 21 1/2 inches Width (widest point): 8 13/16 inches Width (hip): 7 11/16 inches Height body: 1 15/16 inches Height at handle: 3 1/16 inches Length key box: 9 9/16 inches Length peg box: 4 1/4 inches Height key box: 2 inches Pegbox to nut: 7/16 inches Nut to bridge: 12 inches Width of keybox at end of peg box: 2 11/16 inches Diam. wheel: 4 3/8 inches
Maple, fruitwood, ebony, iron, gut, mother of pearl
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1953-1051
A hurdy-gurdy (Fr: vielle) of maple with a straight-sided case and turned fruitwood spindles leading to the onion-dome profile peghead. The top has incised foliate borders and corner rosettes; the lower rosettes (near the crank) are perforated and have trefoil motifs. The crank is centered above an inlayed rosette of ebony and mother of pearl. Gut hinges secure the lid to the keybox; note names are written on the proper right side of the neck. There are 19 keys, each of which has 3 tangents that can be swiveled for adjusting temperament. There are three melody strings affected by the tangents, and four drone strings. Each of the melody and drone strings can be put into or out of contact with the wheel. A 2 1/4"wide x 1 1/4" deep x 4 1/4" long compartment is located on the back of the neck, covered by a door that fastens with a metal hook. Two knobs projecting from the bottom of the instrument are for attaching a strap. The removable wheel cover is decorated with a matching incised border.

A handle at the end rotates a rosined wheel which rubs against gut strings setting them into motion in a way similar to a violin bow. The player presses keys – always just one at a time – to play melodies. Fixed-pitch drone strings give the instrument a sound very similar to that of a bagpipe.
Provenance:Purchased from Frank Partridge & Sons, London
Mark(s):"fait pour Hoy 1750" in pencil on the lid underside [not found in 2014]
Inscription(s):Note names written on proper right side of neck.